It’s the American dream; riding along side some of the most stunning coastlines in the world, the Pacific Coast Highway runs right down the edge of Californ-i-ay! Take in awe-inspiring vistas, watch the sunset over the glistening Pacific Ocean and make friends with the sea lions basking in the Californian sunshine. Sold yet? Well keep reading as we take you through every cyclists dream.
First things first; the route.
The most popular part of this everlasting coastline runs from San Francisco down to the bright lights of Los Angeles; over 470 miles in total, this isn’t one to be attempted in a couple of days! You will be riding (for the most part) on California’s State Highway number 1 also known as the Cabrillo Highway. Some people do this route in about six days, averaging at about 80 miles per day, but the longer you give yourself, the more time you’ll have to take in the spectacular sites.
This route is not at all easy, as you’ll be sharing the narrow road with high speed cars, trucks, tractors and lorries. This is by no means a step-by-step definitive guide and you should conduct thorough research before embarking on this trip, we just wanting to give you a little inspiration!
Beaches, Beaches and more Beaches
The Pacific Coast is home to some of the most untouched, yet beautiful beaches. Some of which you can take a walk along or go and take a paddle in the Pacific and others you have to just look on in awe from a distance, (unless cliff abseiling is your thing!) Some beaches to note down are:
- Half Moon Bay
- Carmel Beach (best sunset!)
- Santa Monica Beach
This is where being on a bike really comes in handy as a lot of the beaches charge $10 for car parking!
What are you going to see along the way?
Golden Gate Bridge
Perhaps one of the most famous bridges in the world, Golden Gate Bridge connects San Francisco to Marin County. Some people start at this point and ride across the bridge.
Monterey and Carmel-by-the-sea
This is where American’s holiday! Two beautiful seaside towns with luxury spa hotels, fabulous restaurants, a world-class aquarium and the ultimate place to do some whale watching! Make sure this is a stop on your tour, the hotels can get a little pricey so make sure you book in advance to get a good deal!
Big Sur is the name given to what is the most popular part of the Cabrillo Highway and it begins at Bixby Bridge – one of the tallest single span concrete bridges in the world. Here is where the fun really starts, winding roads along the Cliffside and some of the most stunning state parks America has to offer. If time is on your side, spend a couple of nights here and take your time to soak up this amazing stretch of coastline.
- Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park – take a 2 mile round-trip hike to Pfeiffer Falls – a delicate 60 foot waterfall hidden amongst the forest.
- Julia Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park – A 1.3-mile round-trip takes you downhill toward the ocean, passing through a tunnel underneath Hwy 1. Here you will find the 80ft-high McWay Falls, which tumbles year-round and free falls into the Pacific.
- Ragged Point – This roughly marks the end of Big Sur, before Highway 1 drifts back down towards sea level. This cliff point offers amazing views in both directions.
Home to Hearst Castle, a hilltop mansion built for newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, San Simeon lies just past the Big Sur. The castle is one of the main tourist attractions in San Simeon and you can wander around the grand rooms and gardens on one of the tours.
San Luis Obispo
Breathe a sigh of relief as you get to your halfway mark, San Luis. Visit Bubblegum Alley and leave your (sticky) mark on the Gold Coast, lovely!
Hailed as The American Riviera, Santa Barbara boasts a beautiful harbour front, another great beach and Spanish-inspired architecture that gives the place a very Mediterranean feel. Make sure you leave yourself enough time to hit up the surf dude!!
Arrive at your final destination, the megalopolis that is Los Angeles. Have a cycle down Sunset Boulevard, mooch around Rodeo Drive and if you’re feeling extra adventurous, take a hike to see the Hollywood sign. Santa Monica is definitely worth a try and is a great stay with ocean-front hotels, beautiful beaches and a world-famous pier.
We hope this has inspired you to have a think about taking a biking tour across the pond. The Pacific Coast Highway is also a popular route for road trippers in their convertible Mustangs, but why do it on four wheels when you can do it on two??
Look out for our next blog – Spring Classics 2016